A Yielding that Yields in this New Year
A new year is here, and I’ve been taking a little time these past few days to reflect on this past year.
2018 ushered in one of the most challenging and painfully beautiful seasons of our lives.
It came on the heels of a soul-challenging, life-changing mission trip that Mark and I took to Togo, Africa. God was working in my heart, in our lives…challenging us, changing us, calling us to something that we didn’t quite have words for.
My soul felt a call to surrender…to whatever it was God was doing.
2018 was definitely a year of surrender, but not in any way that I had envisioned.
I prayed to be surrendered to wherever He led, whatever He called us to, whatever He put in our lives…
I’d say the year went pretty much like this:
an unexpected calling,
a decision and a step of faith,
confirmation and assurance,
denial and rejection,
doubts and uncertainty,
a difficult challenge,
a new diagnosis,
a hard battle,
changes and new rhythms,
more uncertainty and doubts,
more fervent prayer,
and a deep wilderness through which we are still walking.
It seems as though surrender has ushered in a long season of struggle…
we’ve entered a wilderness of waiting and wandering and wondering and struggling to find the way forward.
But the surrendering that brought us here is the same surrendering that will bring us through. Because a daily surrendering to the One who is The Way is really the only way through when the way forward is unclear.
(I wrote quite a lot of words back in July that covered our journey of surrender through the first half of 2018…but I never posted it. Soon after I wrote it, before I gathered the courage to actually post it, we entered a really hard season that has carried through the second half of this long and challenging year. I haven’t written down all the details of these past 5 months yet…maybe because we’re still walking through the thick of it, maybe because it’s not only my story to tell and I want to be careful how I share it, or maybe because I just simply don’t have the words yet. But if you’d like to read about our year of surrender, or at least the bits I’ve carved out into words so far anyway, I’ve finally posted a bit of it here.)
. . .
Another year is beginning, but in a lot of ways it is simply a continuation of what already is. There’s no pretty bow to tie up around the end of 2018, no clean slate or fresh start to this next year…just one more step on this same surrendering journey that we’re on, not really knowing or even trying to guess at what the upcoming months might hold. We are simply taking one obedient step at a time, just doing what we know to do for today and trusting God with all the unknowns of tomorrow.
So this year I’m choosing the word “yield”, which is a synonym of sorts to surrender…because the surrender of last year is carrying over into this year, and 2019 is looking to require quite a bit more of surrendering and yielding from me.
We’ve been walking through a storm quite unlike any we’ve ever faced before. I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago that I felt like I was in the middle of a hurricane, being pounded by the winds and rain and storm with no end in sight. When the storm first started raging, I fought against it…fought for peace, for relief, for answers, for a way forward. I braced myself against the wind and locked my knees against the storm so I wouldn’t fall over.
But in all that fighting against the storm, I began to break.
Like a tree that doesn’t bend in the wind, I felt myself cracking beneath the weight of it all. Rigid limbs snapping and breaking, lacking the strength to endure the storm.
Then I was reminded of this song which I’ve loved for years, but hadn’t heard for a while:
How He Loves
by David Crowder
He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree bending beneath
The weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me
And oh how He loves us
Oh, oh how He loves us
How He loves us all
This storm we’re facing, as hard as it is, is evidence of His great love.
These afflictions that weigh us down are eclipsed by His great glory.
God is loving us through this…using this to prepare us, to shape us, to refine us and remake us.
But I’ve not been bending beneath it very well.
I’ve been bracing against it, fighting against it, battling against it, standing rigid against it…but not bending or yielding to it. I’ve not been leaning into the wind. I’ve not been yielding to the hurricane love of Christ through this storm.
How much time do I spend yelling at the wind, fighting against the circumstances and callings that God has given me, instead of simply yielding to His will and His work in my life? Will my soul ever learn?...
Even when it feels like a hurricane and I’m battered and a bit crushed…the wind and the rain are washing me, remaking me, shaping me, preparing me…stripping down those dead and wilted branches and pruning me for future growth.
This year, I want to surrender to His will and yield to His ways. Even if His ways feel a lot like a hurricane, and even if His will leads us into a deeper wilderness.
“…offer yourselves to God [in a decisive act] as those alive [raised] from the dead [to a new life], and your members [all of your abilities—sanctified, set apart] as instruments of righteousness [yielded] to God.” Romans 6:13 (AMP)
The word yield has several meanings. One definition is
“to give up possession of a claim or demand: such as
a: to give up (one's breath, life, or spirit) and so die
b: to surrender or relinquish to the physical control of another : hand over possession of
c: to surrender or submit (oneself) to another
d: to give (oneself) up to an inclination, temptation, or habit
e: to relinquish one's possession of (something, such as a position of advantage or point of superiority)”
I am claiming this kind of yielding of my life to Christ this year.
It may not look the way I thought it would, but I yield to His ways.
It may be a lot harder than I wanted it to be, but I yield to His work.
It may not turn out the way I planned, but I yield to His purpose.
Another meaning of the word yield is “to bear or bring forth as a natural product especially as a result of cultivation.”
I am entering this year in the middle of what feels like a pretty dry and barren wilderness season. As we walk this uncertain path, I want to be intentional about continuing to plant seeds and cultivate my soul so that all of this time spent in the waiting—all the wandering and wondering, and all the struggle—will bear fruit and bring forth an abundant harvest in time, as we yield to Christ through this season.
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest.” John 12:24 (AMP)
“And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].” Psalm 1:3 (AMP)
As I surrender to Christ and yield to His ways, I pray that this year will also yield fruit in my life and in our family.
This year, I pray for a yielding that yields.
Whatever this new year brings, however this journey of surrender leads, I know that God is with us and that He is writing a beautiful story. And I’m just grateful. Grateful for the hard times, for the struggle, for the storm…because His greatness and strength is revealed in our weak places, as we yield to Him and let Him do what only He can do.
So here’s to a new year, knowing God is walking with us and working in us through whatever may come.